Eric Stoller is a higher education thought-leader, consultant, writer, and speaker. He frequently gives keynotes on how administrators can use social media strategically and is a proponent for teaching students about digital identity development.
With a background in student affairs, academic advising, wellness, technology, and communications, Eric focuses his energies on educating clients and captivating audiences. As the Student Affairs and Technology blogger for Inside Higher Ed, he generates conversations, answers questions, and provides insight about a variety of “tech topics.”
He received an AA from Indian Hills Community College, a BA in Communications from the University of Northern Iowa, and an Ed.M. in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University. Eric can be found online at http://ericstoller.com/ and tweeting at http://twitter.com/ericstoller/.
I had the chance to Skype with Eric and talk about the job search. Here’s what he had to say.
What should I do before I jump into the job search?
It’s helpful to have a reasonable tolerance for ambiguity. Start thinking about what you like to do and what you can do and what’s available.
Eric emphasized the importance of developing your ability to embrace (or at least tolerate) ambiguity. This is the normal part of all of this (the job search). Don’t battle it; it’s a part of the process. Once you can handle “the unknowns,” then you can think about where you are going.
Be creative with your search Eric said.
Resumes & Cover Letters are tough to get just ‘right’, what are some pieces of advice you have for grads in the search process?
Cover letters have to tell a story and have real honesty in them. You have the chance to write an authentic personal narrative in your cover letter and some people don’t. Show some humor or uniqueness.
Eric says that with resumes it’s sometimes hard because you don’t know who is on the hiring committee. A resume has to be palatable for a wide array of professionals. Be clear and concise in your resume and deliver it via PDF. Make sure you have good contrast (in terms of design) and structure. Talk about the actions that you are doing and have done that show impact.
The resume unlocks the door to the in-person interview where you get a chance to shine.
I’ve received word that I am up for an interview, so what should I be doing to help myself prepare for it?
With a phone interview, Eric says to make it easier for you. Thinker smarter AND work harder. Stand up, walk around. He suggests doing the interview through the computer (Google Voice) and using headphones. During Eric’s interview for graduate school he taped up facts and information on everything that he could possibly need to know. It’s a good reference for you but do not rely on it too much.
During in-person interviews, nonverbal’s are awesome because you can read them (whereas on the phone you aren’t able to pick up on them). Make sure your handshake is firm. Your interview is your performance. In 30 minutes you can’t showcase everything that makes you special- you are trying to share a concentrated version of you.
Keep your answers short. If you are getting a five-part question, write it in your pad folio- even if it’s just a key word. If you are finding yourself pausing and saying one too many ‘ums’- pause, take a break to regain your composure.
And introverts take a break when you need it.
On campus- what’s it all about?
The moment you land at a location, you’re “on.” The interview starts now. Always be ready and have your game face on. Ask as many questions beforehand so you are prepared for it when you are there. It’ll make you more ready. You might have to give a presentation, asking beforehand will help you with that.
Remember, the process can sometimes be a bit drawn out. Pace yourself. Drink a lot of water. It’s all about the “little big things.” And when they offer a snack break- take it!
Describe some of the toughest situations you’ve faced in the job search.
The Student Affairs world is really small. Eric reminds us of the importance of your network; how it helps a lot- it keeps you going. Never burn a bridge, unless you absolutely have to.
When you post online, context matters (especially with Social Media). The meaning of it can get lost and it can come back to haunt you.
Be kind and honest. Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” Eric says that if you accept the status quo, how are you going to evolve?
When you were going through your job search, what were some resources that you found helpful?
Anything outside of the traditional Student Affairs canon is helpful because everyone in our world is drinking the same Kool-Aid. If you can, mix it up too. You’ll be more well-rounded as a critical thinker AND doer.
Eric says to pump all of the information that you can find about job searches into your Google Reader (RSS feeds).
Be more efficient in your search. As a whole, we need to be better searchers.
What advice would you give to a graduate student who is in the job search?
Job searching is like dating- some people get that one date and it’s great but others are going to go out on six plus dates. Be patient.
Maintain an even keel. Keep taking deep breaths. Lean on your friends and lean on your mentors. Support from those individuals will be helpful as you progress on your journey. Good luck!
I’d like to thank Eric for his time and help, not only to help me but to you my readers and fellow grad students.
You can find Eric Stoller at: